Last week, Congress gave up the ghost of a grand bargain—at least for now—and came to a short-term agreement that raised the debt limit while allowing the federal government to resume its normal functions. Included in the 13th-hour deal was the formation of a bicameral, bipartisan budget conference committee that must hammer out an agreement to fund the government in the short-term while seeking to address bigger budget issues in the long-term.

The committee will look to fund the government through the rest of this fiscal year (which, as you no doubt remember from last week’s hullabaloo, began October 1) and articulate a broader budget roadmap that may tackle longer-term issues like deficit reduction, revenue increases and entitlement reform. Their first meeting is set for October 30.

The conference committee presents a serious opportunity to rack up some big wins for early learning, and we can start putting calls into conferees now. The committee has an auspicious date—Friday, December 13—by which to reach an agreement. So while the timeline has shifted slightly, our goal is a clear and familiar one: we want a significant new investment in early childhood education to be a part of whatever deal budget conferees strike, and we want an end to the sequester haunting the domestic discretionary programs that serve vulnerable children and families.

It may feel like a daunting task, but don’t run screaming just yet: the core strategy stays the same. With in-district work periods for the House and Senate on the horizon, it’s an opportune time to schedule a face-to-face meeting between your federal legislators and their most influential, ECE-minded constituents. Consider re-upping your efforts to host an event or place an op-ed in local media, and please don’t forget that our communications team is here to help you each step of the way.

In the spirit of the season, consider the extra time to continue reaching out to members of Congress a treat, not a trick. Though the path ahead may be fraught with budgetary ghouls, together we can make sure that kids don’t leave the Capitol’s doorstep empty-handed.